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Spacecraft

A Scottish startup is providing a kit to help build a picosatellite on the cheap

A Glasgow-based startup is reducing the cost of access to space by offering "satellite kits" that make it easier for space enthusiasts, high schools and universities alike to build a small but functional satellite for as little as US$6,000 and then, thanks to its very small size, to launch for significantly less than the popular CubeSats.  Read More

Artist's impression of Venus Express making its aerobraking maneuver (Image: ESA/C Carreau...

The European Space Agency's (ESA) eight-year Venus Express mission has come to an end. Having already extended its lifespan to four times that originally planned, the unmanned orbiter has exhausted its fuel during a final attempt to further prolong its usefulness. According to ESA, the spacecraft can no longer hold the correct attitude to maintain communications with Earth and will soon burn up in the Venusian atmosphere.  Read More

ESA’s ‘Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil’ experiment will test diffusion effects in high-pres...

The European Space Agency is shipping crude oil into space. This may seem like a poor market strategy, but there's method behind this petroleum madness. The space agency is sending a set of small, highly-pressurized containers of crude oil into orbit as part of an experiment aimed at learning how oil behaves in deep underground reservoirs.  Read More

ESA ATV Georges Lemaitre captured during its August docking (Photo: ESA/NASA/Roscosmos–O. ...

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Georges Lemaitre captured the International Space Station (ISS) in a new light in August, as it fired up a set of experimental sensors that may form the basis of the next generation of automated docking systems. Such tech will be vital for the increasingly-ambitious missions planned by NASA and its partners to explore the Red Planet and beyond.  Read More

Dione as mapped by the Cassini spacecraft (Image: NASA/JPL/SSI/LPI)

NASA has released global maps of six of the Saturnian moons. The system has been under the intense examination of the Cassini-Huygens mission for the past decade, and the completion of the global maps represents the end of one of the legendary spacecraft's key mission objectives. Almost all of the maps are whole, though there are currently parts of Iapetus unfinished, as well as a region of the north pole of Enceladus set to be filled in some time next year.  Read More

Orion being unloaded from the USS Anchorage after splashing down in the Pacific (Image: NA...

The Orion spacecraft may have taken less than five hours to fly into space and back, but it will take a fortnight for it to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, so Lockheed Martin, builder of the capsule, is conducting tests on the fly. As the 19,650 lb (8,913 kg) capsule designed to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit was unloaded ashore in San Diego, California from the recovery ship USS Anchorage, Lockheed engineers were waiting to take samples of the heat shield and begin processing the flight recorders.  Read More

Artist's concept of of New Horizons approaching Pluto (Image: NASA)

If you think it's hard waking up after a nine-hour plane flight, imagine doing so after a space voyage of nine years and three billion miles. On Saturday, NASA's New Horizons deep space probe woke itself up from hibernation mode as it began preparations for its flyby of Pluto and its moons next July. Having traveled 2.9 billion miles from Earth and with 162 million miles to go, the signals announcing the awakening took four hours and 26 minutes to cover the distance to NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia.  Read More

Zoomed-in image of Ceres taken on Dec. 1, 2014 with the Dawn spacecraft's framing camera (...

The Dawn spacecraft has lifted the veil on another corner of the Solar System by taking its best image yet of the dwarf planet Ceres. The nine-pixel-wide image was taken from a distance of 740,000 mi (1.2 million km) from Ceres as part of the final calibration of Dawn's science camera as the unmanned probe approaches the 590 mi (950 km) wide planetoid, which it will rendezvous with and orbit in March of next year.  Read More

Artist's impression of Orion re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (Image: NASA)

Another chapter in the history of spaceflight was written today at 8:29am PST, as the EFT-1 mission ended with the splashdown of the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Though designed to carry astronauts into deep space, the Orion was unmanned for the flight, which was planned to certify the spacecraft and test critical flight systems.  Read More

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Orion spacecraft mounted atop i...

NASA announced today that the EFT-1 mission launch has been rescheduled for 7:05 am EST on Friday. Officials at NASA, Lockheed Martin, and United Launch Alliance say the problem that finally resulted in the scrubbing of Thursday's launch of the Orion space capsule has been identified. It was a malfunction in liquid hydrogen fill and drain valves on both the port and center common booster cores used for fueling the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster, which could not be closed properly before the launch window was exceeded.  Read More

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